Waving the flag for Teddy Ballgame

In honor of Memorial Day weekend, Low & Outside is traveling back in time and saluting Ted Williams, the Red Sox icon who lost nearly five years in the majors because of military service in World War II and Korea.

Five

prime

years.

Williams was averaging about 35 home runs per season at the time. That means he probably would have hit 175 more homers if he had played those five years. Add the 175 homers to his career total of 521 and Williams would have had 696 homers.

Is there anyone out there who has less respect for Williams' total - whether its 521 or 696 - than Barry Bonds' 762?

Didn't think so.

Rookie watch

Texas' David Murphy and Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury, former minor-league teammates in the Red Sox' farm system, have emerged as the American League's leading rookie-of-the-year candidates. The outfielders also showcase Boston's front-office smarts - and stupidity.

Smarts: Boston made Murphy its No. 1 pick in the 2003 draft, and it selected Ellsbury as its top choice in 2005.

Stupidity: Murphy was one of three players the Red Sox dealt to Texas at last year's July 31 trading deadline for aging reliever Eric Gagne, who had a 6.75 ERA in 20 games with the Sox and then took the free-agent route to Milwaukee, where he is sidelined with rotator-cuff tendinitis. (Starting lefthander Kason Gabbard also was acquired by Texas in the lopsided deal that conjures memory of the deadline steal (er, deal) in 1990, when Boston sent Jeff Bagwell to Houston for Larry Andersen.)

Entering last night, Murphy and Ellsbury were tied for the highest average (.297) among AL rookies. Murphy had slugged six homers and knocked in 34 runs, while Ellsbury (four homers, 19 RBIs) had 19 steals as a highlight of his resume.

Wake up the commish

All sensible baseball people realize it's time for the sport to have instant replay to determine whether a long drive is a homer - and, if need be, to decide whether a fly ball was fair or foul as it flew past a foul pole.

But commissioner Bud Selig, the man who gave us a tie in an All-Star Game, still isn't sure - even after two blown calls created a stir.

"I really am a traditionalist because I think it is right to understand the history of this sport [and] to be very careful any time you make a change," Selig told XM Satellite Radio. "But . . . I am very seriously reviewing this entire matter, and then we'll take it from there."

Stop reviewing. Use common sense. Start using instant replay to determine whether a ball was a homer - or to find out on which side of the foul pole it landed.

Notable

Seattle's Felix Hernandez (2-4, 3.34 ERA) missed his scheduled start against the Yankees yesterday because of a sore right leg. . . . The Angels will host the 2010 All-Star Game, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at 215-854-5181

or scarchidi@phillynews.com.